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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Blue Blood Moon

    10/02/2015 10:54:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This sharp telescopic snapshot caught late September's Harvest Moon completely immersed in Earth's dark umbral shadow, at the beginning of a total lunar eclipse. It was the final eclipse in a tetrad, a string of four consecutive total lunar eclipses. A dark apparition of the Full Moon near perigee, this total eclipse's color was a deep blood red, the lunar surface reflecting light within Earth's shadow filtered through the lower atmosphere. Seen from a lunar perspective, the reddened light comes from all the sunsets and sunrises around the edges of a silhouetted Earth. But close to the shadow's edge,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Charon: Moon of Pluto

    10/01/2015 9:50:07 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | October 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A darkened and mysterious north polar region informally known as Mordor Macula caps this premier high-resolution portrait of Charon, Pluto's largest moon. Captured by New Horizons near its closest approach on July 14, the image data was transmitted to Earth on September 21. The combined blue, red, and infrared data is processed to enhance colors, following variations in surface properties with a resolution of about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles). In fact, Charon is 1,214 kilometers (754 miles) across, about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself. That makes it the largest...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Eclipsed in Southern Skies

    10/01/2015 1:05:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | October 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This stunning panorama in southern skies was recorded on the colorful night of September 27/28 from Carngegie Las Campanas Observatory. A diffuse glow and dark rifts of the central Milky Way hang over domes of the twin 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes. But most eye-catching is the deep red glow of the Moon. Immersed in Earth's shadow during the much anticipated perigee-total-lunar eclipse, the Moon's surface reflects the light of sunsets and sunrises scattered and refracted into the planet's cone-shaped umbra. Along with the dramatic hue of the eclipsed Moon, other colors of that night captured by the sensitive digital...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Seasonal Streaks Point to Recent Flowing Water on Mars

    09/30/2015 1:04:20 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What creates these changing streaks on Mars? Called Recurring Slope Linea (RSL), these dark features start on the slopes of hills and craters but don't usually extend to the bottom. What's even more unusual is that these streaks appear to change with the season, appearing fresh and growing during warm weather and disappearing during the winter. After much study, including a recent chemical analyses, a leading hypothesis has emerged that these streaks are likely created by new occurrences of liquid salty water that evaporates as it flows. The source for the briny water is still unclear, with two possibilities...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse and Lightning Storm

    09/29/2015 7:36:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's more rare than a supermoon total lunar eclipse? How about a supermoon total lunar eclipse over a lightning storm. Such an electrifying sequence was captured yesterday from Ibiza, an island in southeastern Spain. After planning the location for beauty, and the timing to capture the entire eclipse sequence, the only thing that had to cooperate for this astrophotographer to capture a memorable eclipse sequence was the weather. What looked to be a bother on the horizon, though, turned out to be a blessing. The composite picture features over 200 digitally combined images from the same location over the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Total Lunar Eclipse over Waterton Lake [reprised from April 2014]

    09/27/2015 9:21:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Recorded in 2014 April, this total lunar eclipse sequence looks south down icy Waterton Lake from the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, planet Earth. The most distant horizon includes peaks in Glacier National Park, USA. An exposure every 10 minutes captured the Moon's position and eclipse phase, as it arced, left to right, above the rugged skyline and Waterton town lights. In fact, the sequence effectively measures the roughly 80 minute duration of the total phase of the eclipse. Around 270 BC, the Greek astronomer Aristarchus also measured the duration of lunar eclipses - though probably without...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Tonight: A Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

    09/27/2015 8:23:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | September 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tonight a bright full Moon will fade to red. Tonight's moon will be particularly bright because it is reaching its fully lit phase when it is relatively close to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. In fact, by some measures of size and brightness, tonight's full Moon is designated a supermoon, although perhaps the "super" is overstated because it will be only a few percent larger and brighter than the average full Moon. However, our Moon will fade to a dim red because it will also undergo a total lunar eclipse -- an episode when the Moon becomes completely...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M31 versus M33

    09/26/2015 2:39:28 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | September 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Separated by about 14 degrees (28 Full Moons) in planet Earth's sky, spiral galaxies M31 at left, and M33 are both large members of the Local Group, along with our own Milky Way galaxy. This narrow- and wide-angle, multi-camera composite finds details of spiral structure in both, while the massive neighboring galaxies seem to be balanced in starry fields either side of bright Mirach, beta star in the constellation Andromeda. Mirach is just 200 light-years from the Sun. But M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, is really 2.5 million light-years distant and M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, is also about 3 million...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's Snakeskin Terrain

    09/25/2015 12:15:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 38 replies
    NASA ^ | September 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Image Credit: Explanation: A mountainous region informally known as Tartarus Dorsa sprawls some 530 kilometers (330 miles) across this Plutonian landscape. Recently downloaded from New Horizons, it combines blue, red, and infrared image data in an extended color view captured near the spacecraft's close approach to Pluto on July 14. Shadows near the terminator, the line between Pluto's dim day and night, emphasize a rough, scaly texture. The stunning image resolves details on the distant world about 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) across. Refering to a part of Hades in ancient Greek mythology, Tartarus Dorsa borders Tombaugh Regio to the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- LDN 988 and Friends

    09/25/2015 12:13:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars are forming in dark, dusty molecular cloud LDN 988. Seen near picture center some 2,000 light-years distant, LDN 988 and other nearby dark nebulae were cataloged by Beverly T. Lynds in 1962 using Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates. Narrowband and near-infrared explorations of the dark nebula reveal energetic shocks and outflows light-years across associated with dozens of newborn stars. But in this sharp optical telescopic view, the irregular outlines of LDN 988 and friends look like dancing stick figures eclipsing the rich starfields of the constellation Cygnus. From dark sky sites the region can be identified by eye...
  • Finally, Pluto In Real Color View

    09/24/2015 2:52:42 PM PDT · by lbryce · 64 replies
    Friends of NASA ^ | September 22m 2015 | Staff
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Antarctic Analemma

    09/23/2015 3:56:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Does the Sun return to the same spot on the sky every day? No. A better and more visual answer to that question is an analemma, a composite image taken from the same spot at the same time over the course of a year. The featured weekly analemma was taken despite cold temperatures and high winds near the Concordia Station in Antarctica. The position of the Sun at 4 pm was captured on multiple days in the digital composite image, believed to be the first analemma constructed from Antarctica. The reason the image only shows the Sun from September...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way over Bosque Alegre Station in Argentina

    09/22/2015 3:18:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those streaks of light in the sky? First and foremost, the arching structure is the central band of our Milky Way galaxy. Visible in this galactic band are millions of distant stars mixed with numerous lanes of dark dust. Harder to discern is a nearly vertical beam of light rising from the horizon, just to the right of the image center. This beam is zodiacal light, sunlight scattered by dust in our Solar System that may be surprisingly prominent just after sunset or just before sunrise. In the foreground are several telescopes of the Bosque Alegre Astrophysical...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spiral Galaxy M96 from Hubble

    09/22/2015 3:16:30 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dust lanes seem to swirl around the core of Messier 96 in this colorful, detailed portrait of the center of a beautiful island universe. Of course M96 is a spiral galaxy, and counting the faint arms extending beyond the brighter central region, it spans 100 thousand light-years or so, making it about the size of our own Milky Way. M96, also known as NGC 3368, is known to be about 35 million light-years distant and a dominant member of the Leo I galaxy group. The featured image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The reason for M96's asymmetry...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Global Ocean Suspected on Saturn's Enceladus

    09/22/2015 3:14:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Do some surface features on Enceladus roll like a conveyor belt? A leading interpretation of images taken of Saturn's most explosive moon indicate that they do. This form of asymmetric tectonic activity, very unusual on Earth, likely holds clues to the internal structure of Enceladus, which may contain subsurface seas where life might be able to develop. Pictured above is a composite of 28 images taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2008 just after swooping by the ice-spewing orb. Inspection of these images show clear tectonic displacements where large portions of the surface all appear to move all...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Prominence on the Sun

    09/19/2015 1:39:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | September 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This eerie landscape of incandescent plasma suspended in looping and twisted magnetic fields stretched toward the Sun's eastern horizon on September 16. Captured through a backyard telescope and narrowband filter in light from ionized hydrogen, the scene reveals a gigantic prominence lofted above the solar limb. Some 600,000 kilometers across, the magnetized plasma wall would dwarf worlds of the Solar System. Ruling gas giant Jupiter can only boast a diameter of 143,000 kilometers or so, while planet Earth's diameter is less than 13,000 kilometers. Known as a hedgerow prominence for its appearance, the enormous structure is far from stable...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Plutonian Landscape

    09/18/2015 3:40:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This shadowy landscape of majestic mountains and icy plains stretches toward the horizon of a small, distant world. It was captured from a range of about 18,000 kilometers when New Horizons looked back toward Pluto, 15 minutes after the spacecraft's closest approach on July 14. The dramatic, low-angle, near-twilight scene follows rugged mountains still popularly known as Norgay Montes from foreground left, and Hillary Montes along the horizon, giving way to smooth Sputnik Planum at right. Layers of Pluto's tenuous atmosphere are also revealed in the backlit view. With a strangely familiar appearance, the frigid terrain likely includes ices...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pickering's Triangle in the Veil

    09/16/2015 11:18:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Chaotic in appearance, these filaments of shocked, glowing gas break across planet Earth's sky toward the constellation of Cygnus, as part of the Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago. Blasted out in the cataclysmic event, the interstellar shock waves plow through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material. The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bright Spots Resolved in Occator Crater on Ceres

    09/16/2015 1:44:15 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What created these bright spots on Ceres? The spots were first noted as the robotic Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, in February, with the expectation that the mystery would soon be solved in higher resolution images. However, even after Dawn arrived at Ceres in March, the riddle remained. Surprisingly, although images including the featured composite taken in the last month do resolve many details inside Occator crater, they do not resolve the mystery. Another recent clue is that a faint haze develops over the crater's bright spots. Dawn is scheduled to continue to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Spiral Aurora over Iceland

    09/15/2015 8:16:11 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happened to the sky? Aurora! Captured late last month, this aurora was noted by Icelanders for its great brightness and quick development. The aurora resulted from a solar storm, with high energy particles bursting out from the Sun and through a crack in Earth's protective magnetosphere a few days later. Although a spiral pattern can be discerned, creative humans might imagine the complex glow as an atmospheric apparition of any number of common icons. In the foreground of the featured image is the Ölfusá River, while the lights illuminate a bridge in Selfoss City. Just beyond the low...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto from above Cthulhu Regio

    09/14/2015 3:42:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: New high resolution images of Pluto are starting to arrive from the outer Solar System. The robotic New Horizons spacecraft, which zoomed by Pluto in July, has finished sending back some needed engineering data and is now transmitting selections from its tremendous storehouse of images of Pluto and its moons. The featured image, a digital composite, details a surprising terrain filled with craters, plains, landscape of unknown character, and landforms that resemble something on Earth but are quite unexpected on Pluto. The light area sprawling across the upper right has been dubbed Sputnik Planum and is being studied for...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Partial Solar Eclipse over Texas

    09/13/2015 4:59:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was a typical Texas sunset except that most of the Sun was missing. The location of the missing piece of the Sun was not a mystery -- it was behind the Moon. Featured here is one of the more interesting images taken of a partial solar eclipse that occurred in 2012, capturing a temporarily crescent Sun setting in a reddened sky behind brush and a windmill. The image was taken about 20 miles west of Sundown, Texas, USA, just after the ring of fire effect was broken by the Moon moving away from the center of the Sun....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- ISS Double Transit

    09/11/2015 9:04:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | September 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Not once, but twice the International Space Station transits the Sun on consecutive orbits of planet Earth in this video frame composite. The scene was captured on August 22 from a single well-chosen location in Schmalenbeck, Germany where the ISS created intersecting shadow paths only around 7 kilometers wide. Crossing the solar disk in a second or less, the transits themselves were separated in time by about 90 minutes, corresponding to the space station's orbital period. while the large, flare-producing sunspot group below center, AR 2043, remained a comfortable 150 million kilometers away, the distance between camera and orbiting...
  • A Look at What the Public Knows and Does Not Know About Science - Pew Study

    09/11/2015 8:00:20 AM PDT · by SES1066 · 63 replies
    Pew Research Center ^ | 09/10/15 | CARY FUNK & SARA KEHAULANI GOO
    A new Pew Research Center survey finds that most Americans can answer basic questions about several scientific terms and concepts, such as the layers of the Earth and the elements needed to make nuclear energy. But other science-related terms and applications, such as what property of a sound wave determines loudness and the effect of higher altitudes on cooking time, are not as well understood.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Giant Squid in the Flying Bat

    09/10/2015 10:23:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | September 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Very faint but also very large on planet Earth's sky, a giant Squid Nebula cataloged as Ou4, and Sh2-129 also known as the Flying Bat Nebula, are both caught in this scene toward the royal constellation Cepheus. Composed with a total of 20 hours of broadband and narrowband data, the telescopic field of view is almost 4 degrees or 8 Full Moons across. Discovered in 2011 by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters, the Squid Nebula's alluring bipolar shape is distinguished here by the telltale blue-green emission from doubly ionized oxygen atoms. Though apparently completely surrounded by the reddish hydrogen emission...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 4372 and the Dark Doodad

    09/09/2015 10:30:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | September 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The delightful Dark Doodad Nebula drifts through southern skies, a tantalizing target for binoculars in the constellation Musca, The Fly. The dusty cosmic cloud is seen against rich starfields just south of the prominent Coalsack Nebula and the Southern Cross. Stretching for about 3 degrees across this scene the Dark Doodad is punctuated at its southern tip (lower left) by globular star cluster NGC 4372. Of course NGC 4372 roams the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy, a background object some 20,000 light-years away and only by chance along our line-of-sight to the Dark Doodad. The Dark Doodad's well...
  • New Horizons: River of Data Commences (95% of Pluto data still to come)

    09/08/2015 4:16:42 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 5 replies
    Centauri Dreams ^ | 9/8/15 | Paul Gilster
    New Horizons: River of Data Commences by Paul Gilster on September 8, 2015 Hard to believe its been 55 days since the New Horizons flyby. When the event occurred, I was in my daughters comfortable beach house working at a table in the living room, a laptop in front of me monitoring numerous feeds. My grandson, sitting to my right with his machine, was tracking social media on the event and downloading images. When I was Buzzys age that day, Scott Carpenters Mercury flight was in the works, and with all of Gemini and Apollo ahead, I remember the raw...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Distorted Green Flash Sunset over Italy

    09/08/2015 9:19:47 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This was one strange sunset. For one thing, the typically round Sun appeared distorted, geometrically, and multiply layered. For another, some of these layers appeared unusually green. The Sun, of course, was just fine -- its odd appearance was caused entirely by its light refracting in the Earth's atmosphere. When layers of the Earth's atmosphere are unusually warm, layers of the Sun may appear distorted or even seen multiple times. The effect is most strong nearest sunrise and sunset when terrestrial inversion layers occupy distinct altitudes above the horizon. Different colors of the Sun may also become deflected by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Shark Nebula

    09/07/2015 9:26:47 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | September 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: There is no sea on Earth large enough to contain the Shark nebula. This predator apparition poses us no danger, though, as it is composed only of interstellar gas and dust. Dark dust like that featured here is somewhat like cigarette smoke and created in the cool atmospheres of giant stars. After being expelled with gas and gravitationally recondensing, massive stars may carve intricate structures into their birth cloud using their high energy light and fast stellar winds as sculpting tools. The heat they generate evaporates the murky molecular cloud as well as causing ambient hydrogen gas to disperse...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earthrise

    09/06/2015 12:15:06 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | September 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that rising over the edge of the Moon? Earth. About 47 years ago, in December of 1968, the Apollo 8 crew flew from the Earth to the Moon and back again. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were launched atop a Saturn V rocket on December 21, circled the Moon ten times in their command module, and returned to Earth on December 27. The Apollo 8 mission's impressive list of firsts includes: the first humans to journey to the Earth's Moon, the first to fly using the Saturn V rocket, and the first to photograph the Earth...
  • Is there a Planet X, a massive perturber, hidden beyond Pluto?

    09/05/2015 7:46:28 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 32 replies
    Washington Post ^ | September 3 | Joel Achenbach
    The paper ... noted that a number of large, very remote objects share a similar orbital angle. That's suspicious if you're an astronomer expecting to see a random distribution of objects. The key orbital feature is known, rather obtusely, as the argument of perihelion. We're not shy of complicated orbital concepts (we try to toss around the phrase "obliquity of the ecliptic" whenever possible), but this one is not very easy to explain. "The argument of perihelion is the angle at which an object comes to perihelion with respect to the ecliptic plane," Sheppard said in an e-mail. Mike Brown,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Atlas V Rising

    09/05/2015 2:25:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | September 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Early morning risers along Florida's Space Coast, planet Earth, were treated to a launch spectacle on September 2nd. Before dawn an Atlas V rocket rose into still dark skies carrying a US Navy communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station into Earth orbit. This minutes long exposure follows the rocket's arc climbing eastward over the Atlantic. As the rocket rises above Earth's shadow, its fiery trail becomes an eerie, noctilucent exhaust plume glinting in sunlight. Of course, the short, bright startrail just above the cloud bank is Venus rising, now appearing in planet Earth's skies as the brilliant...
  • Ceres Mystery Gets MORE Mysterious

    09/04/2015 4:19:15 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 27 replies ^ | Friday, September 4, 2015
    Christopher Russell, Professor of Geophysics and Space Physics at UCLA cannot discuss the new high resolution images from Ceres because they have been embargoed by the science journal Nature. ... Russell was able to discuss the issue of Ceres' strange bright spots, appearing prominently in both the large crater known as 'Occator', of which is 60 miles (90 km) across and 2 miles (4 km) deep, and on the slopes of an extremely strange, pyramid-shaped mountain that is 4 miles (6 km) tall. These spots, as described by professor Russell, appear to be a powdery substance that is deposited on...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way with Airglow Australis

    09/04/2015 2:02:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: After sunset on September 1, an exceptionally intense, reddish airglow flooded this Chilean winter night skyscape. Above a sea of clouds and flanking the celestial Milky Way, the airglow seems to ripple and flow across the northern horizon in atmospheric waves. Originating at an altitude similar to aurorae, the luminous airglow is instead due to chemiluminescence, the production of light through chemical excitation. Commonly captured with a greenish tinge by sensitive digital cameras, this reddish airglow emission is from OH molecules and oxygen atoms at extremely low densities and has often been present in southern hemisphere nights during the...
  • Plutos Moon Nix

    09/03/2015 2:33:43 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    Universe Today ^ | on September 3, 2015 | Matt Williams
    In accordance with IAU guidelines concerning the naming of satellites in the Solar System, the moon was named Nix. Derived from Greek mythology, Nix is the goddess of darkness and night, the mother of Charon and the ferryman of Hades (the Greek equivalent of Pluto) who brought the souls of the dead to the underworld. The name was officially announced on June 21st, 2006, in an IAU Circular, where the designation Pluto II is also given. The initials N and H (for Nix and Hydra) were also a deliberate reference to the New Horizons mission, which would be conducting a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 159 and NGC 4725

    09/03/2015 2:38:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pointy stars and peculiar galaxies span this cosmic snapshot, a telescopic view toward the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. Bright enough to show off diffraction spikes, the stars are in the foreground of the scene, well within our own Milky Way. But the two prominent galaxies lie far beyond our own, some 41 million light-years distant. Also known as NGC 4747, the smaller distorted galaxy at left is the 159th entry in the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, with extensive tidal tails indicative of strong gravitational interactions in its past. At about a 100,000 light-years across, its likely companion on...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Flare and the Galaxy

    09/02/2015 4:20:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is this person throwing a lightning bolt? No. Despite appearances, this person is actually pointing in the direction of a bright Iridium flare, a momentary reflection of sunlight off of a communications satellite in orbit around the Earth. As the Iridium satellite orbits, reflective antennas became aligned between the observer and the Sun to create a flash brighter than any star in the night sky. Iridium flares typically last several seconds, longer than most meteors. Also unlike meteors, the flares are symmetric and predictable. The featured flare involved Iridium satellite 15 and occurred over southern Estonia last week. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Distant Neutrinos Detected Below Antarctic Ice

    09/01/2015 4:19:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From where do these neutrinos come? The IceCube Neutrino Observatory near the South Pole of the Earth has begun to detect nearly invisible particles of very high energy. Although these rarely-interacting neutrinos pass through much of the Earth just before being detected, where they started remains a mystery. Pictured here is IceCube's Antarctic lab accompanied by a cartoon depicting long strands of detectors frozen into the crystal clear ice below. Candidate origins for these cosmic neutrinos include the violent surroundings of supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies, and tremendous stellar explosions culminating in gamma ray bursts...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto in Enhanced Color

    08/30/2015 9:58:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 36 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto is more colorful than we can see. Color data and images of our Solar System's most famous dwarf planet, taken by the robotic New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in July, have been digitally combined to give an enhanced view of this ancient world sporting an unexpectedly young surface. The featured enhanced color image is not only esthetically pretty but scientifically useful, making surface regions of differing chemical composition visually distinct. For example, the light-colored heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio on the lower right is clearly shown here to be divisible into two regions that are geologically different, with the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M31: The Andromeda Galaxy

    08/30/2015 2:26:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy? Andromeda. In fact, our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Seagull Nebula

    08/29/2015 11:16:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A broad expanse of glowing gas and dust presents a bird-like visage to astronomers from planet Earth, suggesting its popular moniker - The Seagull Nebula. This portrait of the cosmic bird covers a 1.6 degree wide swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. Of course, the region includes objects with other catalog designations: notably NGC 2327, a compact, dusty emission region with an embedded massive star that forms the bird's head (aka the Parrot Nebula, above center). Dominated by the reddish glow of atomic hydrogen, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Puppis A Supernova Remnant

    08/29/2015 11:13:33 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Driven by the explosion of a massive star, supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away. At that distance, this colorful telescopic field based on broadband and narrowband optical image data is about 60 light-years across. As the supernova remnant expands into its clumpy, non-uniform surroundings, shocked filaments of oxygen atoms glow in green-blue hues. Hydrogen and nitrogen are in red. Light from the initial supernova itself, triggered by the collapse of the massive star's core, would have reached Earth about 3,700 years ago. The Puppis A remnant is actually seen through...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Large Cloud of Magellan

    08/26/2015 11:33:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, image. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Collinder 399: The Coat Hanger

    08/26/2015 8:30:46 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is this coat hanger a star cluster or an asterism? This cosmic hang-up has been debated over much of last century, as astronomers wondered whether this binocular-visible object is really a physically associated open cluster or a chance projection. Chance star projections are known as asterisms, an example of which is the popular Big Dipper. Recent precise measurements from different vantage points in the Earth's orbit around the Sun have uncovered discrepant angular shifts indicating that the Coat Hanger is better described as an asterism. Known more formally as Collinder 399, this bright stellar grouping is wider than the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Meteors and Milky Way over Mount Rainier

    08/25/2015 8:49:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Despite appearances, the sky is not falling. Two weeks ago, however, tiny bits of comet dust were. Featured here is the Perseids meteor shower as captured over Mt. Rainier, Washington, USA. The image was created from a two-hour time lapse video, snaring over 20 meteors, including one that brightened dramatically on the image left. Although each meteor train typically lasts less than a second, the camera was able to capture their color progressions as they disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere. Here an initial green tint may be indicative of small amounts of glowing magnesium atoms that were knocked off...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dione, Rings, Shadows, Saturn

    08/24/2015 5:35:56 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening in this strange juxtaposition of moon and planet? First and foremost, Saturn's moon Dione was captured here in a dramatic panorama by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting the giant planet. The bright and cratered moon itself spans about 1100-km, with the large multi-ringed crater Evander visible on the lower right. Since the rings of Saturn are seen here nearly edge-on, they are directly visible only as a thin horizontal line that passes behind Dione. Arcing across the bottom of the image, however, are shadows of Saturn's rings, showing some of the rich texture that could not...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Giant Cluster Bends, Breaks Images

    08/23/2015 3:29:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those strange blue objects? Many of the brightest blue images are of a single, unusual, beaded, blue, ring-like galaxy which just happens to line-up behind a giant cluster of galaxies. Cluster galaxies here typically appear yellow and -- together with the cluster's dark matter -- act as a gravitational lens. A gravitational lens can create several images of background galaxies, analogous to the many points of light one would see while looking through a wine glass at a distant street light. The distinctive shape of this background galaxy -- which is probably just forming -- has allowed...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Little Planet Curiosity

    08/22/2015 10:40:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A curious robot almost completely straddles this rocky little planet. Of course, the planet is really Mars and the robot is the car-sized Curiosity Rover, posing over its recent drilling target in the Marias Pass area of lower Mount Sharp. The 92 images used to assemble the little planet projection, a digitally warped and stitched mosaic covering 360x180 degrees, were taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the Curiosity mission sol (martian day) 1065. That corresponds to 2015 August 5, three Earth years since Curiosity landed on the surface of the Red Planet. The composite selfie...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sprites from Space

    08/20/2015 10:26:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: An old Moon and the stars of Orion rose above the eastern horizon on August 10. The Moon's waning crescent was still bright enough to be overexposed in this snapshot taken from another large satellite of planet Earth, the International Space Station. A greenish airglow traces the atmosphere above the limb of the planet's night. Below, city lights and lightning flashes from thunderstorms appear over southern Mexico. The snapshot also captures the startling apparition of a rare form of upper atmospheric lightning, a large red sprite caught above a lightning flash at the far right. While the space station's...
  • Company in Canada gets U.S. patent for space elevator

    08/20/2015 1:07:19 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 28 replies ^ | August 15, 2015 | by Nancy Owano
    20 km Space Tower ====================================================================================================================== Exploring space while seated on Earth, gazing up on screens in museum theaters or at home via VR headsets. is exciting but the top imagination-grabber is the very idea of finding a way to access space. This is the present-day realm of creative thinking over space elevators, in the use of a giant tower to carry us to space. Scientists working on space elevators are thinking about materials and designs that can be used to access space as an alternative to rocket technology. A sign of the times is the upcoming Space Elevator Conference...